Within a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 health crisis has brought on an economic crisis and rapidly laid bare the underlying inequities and fragilities in the global food system. The World Food Programme has warned that the world is facing ‘multiple famines of biblical proportions’ that could result in 300,000 deaths per day – a ‘hunger pandemic’. There are currently 821 million food-insecure people in the world and a human catastrophe is expected to eventuate in a matter of months.
Our food systems have been close to breaking point for decades, and food insecurities exacerbated by the global lockdowns reveal the extent that existing food systems (and the people underlying them) have been undervalued and under-protected. No one is immune from these shocks to the food system – stark images of empty supermarket shelves in ‘developed’ countries with strong food supply chains make this clear.
While food is a source of conflict for many, it has also been a source of peace for some by bringing people together during this period of isolation. To counter loneliness, families and friends have ‘shared’ food online. Community groups and neighbourhood Samaritans have mobilized to respond to food insecurities of neighbours, international students and the elderly.
- Spencer Leung, Founder & CEO of GO Organics, former Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University.
- Mark Notaras, Co-Founder of the Timor-Leste Food Lab, former Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University. See also the Food Lab model and the Impact Dashboard.
- Sevinc Demirci, Food Security and Livelihood Ex